Citation: Articuno. "A Whole Host of Side Effects: An Experience with Citalopram (Celexa) (exp109356)". Erowid.org. Jul 25, 2021. erowid.org/exp/109356
I always like to start accounts like this with a little background information about my life to enable you, the reader, to get a partial insight into my life. I've been suffering with both generalized anxiety and social anxiety now for the past several years, to varying degrees of intensity. Up until the start of this year (2016), I'd pretty much been managing my symptoms to the best of my ability without the need for medical intervention. However during the start of 2016, I really began to feel more and more unwell mentally as the anxiety was starting to take its toll after all the years. So after much stressing (appointments can be rather daunting for social anxiety sufferers), I eventually plucked up the courage to go and visit the doctor.
The doctor's appointment wasn't half as bad as I was anticipating, I was expecting the Spanish Inquisition and a bombardment of personal questions, but I was pretty much in and out in a matter of minutes, which I think generally tends to be the case here in the UK with most medical appointments. I was offered counseling, which I said I would have a think about (secretly though I had already dismissed this offer, I just don't think it would be my cup of tea), and also medication, of which I accepted. So off I was sent with a prescription for 20 MG of Citalopram, to be taken once daily every morning.
I was a little apprehensive at first about taking an antidepressant, as it would be the first time I had embarked on a course of psychoactive medication. Generally throughout my life so far I've been fortunate enough not to have to rely on much medication bar the odd paracetamol for a headache every now and then or remedies for the flu once a year or so.
During the appointment, the doctor didn't explain to me any of the potential side effects of the medication, or how long it would take to work, or even how it would work for that matter. I'm quite a well read person so to speak, so before taking the Citalopram I did a little research and discovered that as it was an SSRI, it could take up to several weeks for my symptoms to improve as the medication needs to build up in one's system. So after I'd finished with my reading, I decided to take my first dose. During the first day, I didn't really feel any different, nor did I experience any noticeable side effects. This continued for the next two weeks.
It was roughly about the second week of taking Citalopram that the 'fun' really started to begin. Each day an hour or so after taking the Citalopram, I would start gurning and grinding my teeth uncontrollably (I've dabbled with ecstasy in the past and used to get this), I felt like I was on uppers, and this would continue throughout the day. It was rather embarrassing as I looked like I had taken illegal drugs. Another side effect I encountered each morning would be terrible stomach cramps, which was often accompanied by rather violent diarrhea. Apologies if this sounds graphic, but on more than one occasion I almost had a bit of a bad 'accident' downstairs before reaching the bathroom, it really was that bad. Also speaking of problems 'downstairs', whilst taking Citalopram I'd also noticed I was finding it increasingly difficult to be able to maintain an erection, and if I could, reaching climax was nigh on impossible (again this was also an issue I'd encountered during my ecstasy days). In addition to these side effects, I also experienced insomnia, each and every night without fail, as I felt so alert from the Citalopram and simply couldn't relax. It got to the stage where I was having to take two Zolpidem tablets every night in order to settle down. This was in addition to my usual night cap of a glass of wine or whisky mixer.
About a month or so passed and I carried on taking the Citalopram despite the side effects, and this is where things seemed to get even worse for me. Each day I would start experiencing morbid thoughts about ways in which to kill or hurt myself, aswell as dark images about death in general
I would start experiencing morbid thoughts about ways in which to kill or hurt myself, aswell as dark images about death in general
, and this persisted throughout the day. During one evening the thoughts got so overwhelming, that I went into the kitchen and cut my fingers a few times with a knife as I thought it might help relieve the tension. It wasn't a particularly bad cut, just enough to make myself bleed a little. Afterwards I felt really guilty about doing this, as I'd never previously experienced thoughts of self harm, let alone carry them out.
After this I decided enough was enough as it was very clear that Citalopram really wasn't agreeing with me. I made an appointment to see the doctor for a medication review, where I went and explained all the side effects I had been experiencing. The doctor immediately took me off the Citalopram, much to my relief, and suggested that we try a TCA medication instead, as it was clear that SSRI's weren't for me. I have so far been on a TCA medication now for several months and have been feeling better mentally, and there have been no noticeable side effects either.
When I got home from my medication review, I did some research regarding SSRI's, and discovered that the side effects I had been experiencing were very common. I also read that there is, rather worryingly, an increased risk of suicide and self harm whilst taking SSRI's amongst under 25's. I'm a couple of years older than that age, however this was clearly affecting me despite being out of that age bracket. I find it rather worrying that this risk was not explained to me whilst I was with the doctor.
Anxiety wise, in summary Citalopram pretty much did nothing to alleviate my anxiety, it only made me feel worse, and with that being said, I personally consider it useless for anxiety disorders. After this experience, I can safely say I'd never use any form of an SSRI again.
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